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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

The advancement of optical approaches in neuroscience: from imaging to manipulation of living cells Event

Dr Francasco Difato
11:00 - 12:00
21 September 2016
Room 2209, Life Sciences Building (85), Highfield Campus, University of Southampton

For more information regarding this event, please email Dr Dario Carugo at .

Event details

A lecture in the Bioengineering seminar Series by Dr Francesco Difato, Italian Institute of Technology (Genova, Italy)


Abstract: Current optical approaches are progressing far beyond the scope of monitoring the structure and function of living matter, and they are becoming widely recognized as extremely precise, minimally-invasive, contact-free handling tools. Laser manipulation of living tissues, single cells or even single-molecules is becoming a well-established methodology, thus founding the onset of new experimental paradigms and research fields. Indeed, a tightly focused pulsed laser source permits complex tasks such as applying calibrated forces, transfecting, stimulating or even ablating single cells with subcellular precision, and operating intracellular surgical protocols at the level of single organelles. During my talk, I will present an overview of optical manipulation approaches applied in neuroscience, to perform local mechano-chemical stimulation on living cells, and to monitor their physiological response.

Speaker information

Dr Francesco Difato,Italian Institute of Technology (Genova, Italy),Biography: Francesco Difato graduated in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Genoa in 2002. From 2002 to 2004 he worked as responsible of confocal microscopy laboratory at Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague, and at Charles University in Prague. In 2004, he began his Ph.D at Charles University in Prague, to study dynamics and cytoplasmic trafficking of Polyomavirus in living cells through high-resolution fluorescence techniques. During his PhD, he also spent two years, from 2006 to 2008, at SISSA in Trieste, where he applied force spectroscopy techniques on living cells. In 2008, he received his PhD with a thesis entitled: “Optical microscopy to study the role of the cytoskeleton in cell locomotion and virus trafficking”. Since 2008, He works at Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), and currently he has a Researcher position. His research activity mainly focuses on: (i) Optical wavefront engineering to perform optical imaging on neuronal networks; (ii) Integration of optical setups with electrophysiological recording devices to study the central nervous system at various levels of complexity; (iii) Development of a laser dissection system for in-vitro studies of neural network and axonal regeneration; (iv) Optical tweezers force spectroscopy measurements, to perform localized mechano-chemical stimulation on living cells.

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